TEHRAN, Iran –
Iran's parliament speaker on Wednesday denied allegations made by a defeated pro-reform presidential candidate that protesters detained after the disputed election were raped by their jailers, state media reported.
Ali Larijani told an open session of parliament that a parliamentary investigation found no truth to the rape allegations made by Mahdi Karroubi over the weekend. The swift denial is likely an effort by hard-liners to discredit allegations of widespread prisoner mistreatment that have helped fuel continued protest by reformists who claim President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole the June election.
Some vocal critics within the government's conservative base have also railed against abuse and death of detained protesters. Senior police and judiciary officials have tried to calm public outrage by acknowledging that some detainees were abused in prison and calling for those responsible to be punished.
Karroubi said Sunday he has received reports from former military commanders and other senior officials that male and female prisoners were savagely raped by their jailers to the point of physical and mental damage.
Larijani denied the allegations, saying "the issue of detainees being sexually abused is a lie."
"On the basis of precise and comprehensive investigations conducted about the detainees at Kahrizak and Evin prisons, no cases of rape and sexual abuse were found," the official state news agency IRNA quoted him as saying.
Hossein Shariatmadari, an aide to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and editor of the hard-line Kayhan newspaper, demanded in an editorial published Wednesday before Larijani's announcement that Karroubi be put on trial for making the allegations.
Hundreds have been arrested since the June 12 election as security forces crushed massive protests by supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims he was the true winner in the vote. The arrests were largely carried out by the Revolutionary Guard and its paramilitary militia, the Basij.
Iran has confirmed at least 30 people have died in the country's worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but the opposition said Tuesday that at least 69 people have died in two months of postelection turmoil based on accounts from the victims' families.
Ali Reza Beheshti, a top aide to Mousavi, said the opposition submitted names of 69 killed and some 220 detainees to parliament.